How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Program near Fayetteville Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fayetteville AR, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Fayetteville AR hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Fayetteville AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arkansas junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arkansas students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Fayetteville AR area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Fayetteville AR medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Fayetteville AR with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Fayetteville AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arkansas schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Fayetteville AR area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Fayetteville healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Fayetteville AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Fayetteville AR, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Fayetteville AR Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fayetteville AR.